"Behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21).
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there lived a very poor man in a shabby house in a run-down neighborhood on the wrong side of the tracks in a economically depressed town, in a state overrun with poverty and need. Things weren't looking good.
One day as he was rummaging about the piles of items discarded from the local flea market, tossed aside because nobody wanted any of them, something caught his eye. It was a vase, and to his amazement, it was unbroken despite the obvious abuse it had suffered; unbroken, and unmarred. In fact, it was beautiful, even more so when contrasted by all the trashy surroundings.
He took it home and placed it upon the mantle in his dingy living room, and then sat and simply stared at it. Day after day he would spend hours gazing upon the very rare and most beautiful vase. One day, as he was intently focused upon the vase, he realized how cluttered his mantle was with other things, and how stained the wall was with the grime of poverty. So he cleared the junk off the mantle, and put a fresh coat of paint upon the wall. That simple decision caused the vase to stand out in even greater beauty, for now his entire wall took on the look of a beautiful painting, and he found such joy in gazing upon it all.
Then one day as he entered his living room he noticed how worn was the carpet, and how tattered were the furnishings. He pulled the carpet out and uncovered a beautiful hardwood floor; he cleaned and recovered the furnishings, transforming the look of the entire room. This is turn led him to slowly began renovating the rest of his home. Once finished, he delighted in the comfort of his beautiful abode.
But then he noticed that the yard was overgrown with weeds, and filled with junk; the fence was broken down and the outside of his home looked weathered and wasted. So he set upon making the needed repairs and cleaning up the yard. Soon, his home became the talk of the neighborhood, for it brought such a sense of hope to all those around him. Before long the other homeowners began making repairs upon their houses and yards, such that the entire neighborhood transformed and became the talk of the town.
Yet a little while longer and the town itself began to change; cleaning the trash off the streets, repairing broken windows and repainting faded homes; refurbishing businesses and rekindling dreams. At length, the town became the garden spot of the State. Tourists came from far and wide to see the beauty of the transformed town. Upon seeing it, they each went home inspired to make changes in their own homes.
Meanwhile, the man sat happily in his living room and looked upon that rare and most beautiful vase, blessed that his life had been transformed by beauty.
Jesus said that kingdom of God was within us; that the royal, ruling power of God was at work transforming our lives from the inside out. This is that very rare and most beautiful vase, and the power of its influence is truly extraordinary!